10 Important Stories from 08/29/19 Box Scores: Breakout Bats Worth Considering (Solak, Meadows), Can We Trust These Upside Starters & More

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The stunning emergence of Aristedes Aquino continued, as he went 3-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R. Jose Berrios rebounded, at least somewhat, allowing 3 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP to improve to 11-7 with a 3.57 ERA. Eduardo Escobar continued his monster season, going 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R (giving him 30 HR and 106 RBI). What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1)Has Mike Clevinger officially emerged as a Top 20 starter…
He was spectacular yesterday against the Tigers, tossing 8.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 10. While it’s easy to point towards the opponent, he’s now 10-2 with a 2.72 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 123 K over 86.0 IP. He entered the day with a 13.04 K/9, courtesy of a 15.0% SwStr% (he had 24 swinging strikes yesterday), and while he may not be able to maintain that mark he continues to show solid control (3.00 BB/9) and his groundball rate has been improving (44.4% entering the day would be a career high, and he had 7 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday). Considering his luck appears to be realistic (he entered the day with a .333 BABIP and 78.2% strand rate) there’s little not to like. While a regression in his strikeout rate could knock him just outside the Top 20 (there are some home run concerns still, and his Hard% is up to 38.0%), there’s little question that he’s among the better options in the league.

2) Seth Brown makes a statement in Oakland…
He wasn’t the only productive hitter, as Jurickson Profar went 3-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R, but Brown is the shiny new toy and he’s doing everything he can to grab our attention. Hitting fifth he went 4-5 with 2 RBI and 3 R, putting him at .368 with 4 RBI and 5 R over his first four games in the Majors. It’s impressive, though we also can’t overlook his 4 K vs. 0 BB. His approach was a significant concern upon his recall, as he posted a 12.9% SwStr% at Triple-A while struggling to draw many walks (7.6%). It’s easy to envision MLB pitchers exposing him, and while there is power in his bat there’s a good chance that he ultimately struggles to post even a solid average. There’s enough home run potential to keep you interested, but don’t be surprised if there are many bumps along the way.

3) A complete implosion from Dylan Cease…
Taking on the Twins he was shellacked for 8 ER on 10 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 2.0 IP as he allowed a pair of home runs (including one to Jake Cave, who went 2-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R). Home runs have been a significant issue for Cease, whose now allowed 13 HR over 52.0 IP (at least 1 HR in each of his 10 starts), and while it hasn’t been bad lately his control has been fairly inconsistent (23 BB overall, including 3+ in four starts). You would think that the former wouldn’t be as big of a problem as it has been, having entered the day with a 44.6% groundball rate (2 groundballs vs. 0 fly balls yesterday) and he hasn’t been hit hard (31.1% Hard%). That gives a sense of hope moving forward, but are you willing to bet that he suddenly figures it out for this season? If you’re considering it, you shouldn’t be.

4) Austin Meadows continues to rediscover his form…
It wasn’t that long ago that fantasy owners were starting to wonder if the time had come to move on from Meadows. After going 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday he’s now gone 12-42 with 4 HR and 11 RBI over his past 10 games. Obviously the average could be a little bit better, but the power and run production has been there. He’s been hitting the ball hard all season long (44.6% Hard%) and his strikeout rate hasn’t been atrocious (24.2%, courtesy of a 10.2% SwStr%). The bigger question is whether or not a pull heavy approach (20.8% Oppo%) and fly ball tendencies (43.6%) will cause his BABIP to ultimately plummet (it’s currently at .325). Time will tell, but there’s some power and a little bit of speed so while he’s going well he should be in all lineups.

5) Victor Caratini continues his emergence as a solid catching option…
The switch hitter provided all of the offense for the Cubs yesterday, hitting two home runs off of Jacob deGrom (7.0 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 7 K) and finished the day going 3-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R. It’s his third straight multi-hit game and he owns a five-game hitting streak overall (9-17 with 3 HR, 5 RBI and 5 R). He’s been playing fairly regularly, including being deployed as a first baseman yesterday, with Anthony Rizzo sidelined, and he’s now hitting .274 with 9 HR and 28 RBI over 175 AB. The question is going to be if he can maintain his power, considering he entered the day with a 21.2% HR/FB and a 51.2% groundball rate. Having never shown this much power, as well as a typical groundball approach, there’s risk of a slow down. Use him while he’s going well, but don’t become infatuated.

6) Who is Robert Duggar and should we care about him…
He returned to the Majors, after getting bombed by the Mets in early August (6 ER over 5.0 IP), and this time impressed. He allowed 2 R (0 earned) on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 7.0 IP against the Reds though he ultimately settled for a no decision. Pitching for two different minor league teams (124.0 IP) he showed solid marks in both strikeouts (8.85 K/9) and control (2.76 BB/9), but a 1.31 HR/9 and 41.6% groundball rate gives a shadow of doubt as to whether or not he can thrive. He allowed 1 HR yesterday, though he generated 10 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls (giving a small sense of hope). Is that enough? Not to truly be a trusted option, though as a streaming option if the matchup calls for it (especially if he’s pitching at home), it’s not the craziest thought.

7) Get ready for Nick Solak to replace Rougned Odor at 2B…
We keep waiting for Odor to have a similar breakout to the one he had last season, but it’s just never happened. He went 0-3 yesterday and he now hasn’t had a hit since August 20, going 0-28, and he’s now hitting .192 with 149 K over 427 AB. Meanwhile Solak was hitting cleanup for the Rangers, going 2-4 with 1 R and 1 SB, as he continues to impress since being recalled. It’s only 32 AB but he’s hitting .375 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 6 R after hitting 27 HR at Triple-A. He’s always shown an ability to draw a walk, the big question is going to be whether or not a 14.4% SwStr% entering the day ultimately comes back to haunt him. It’s possible that it’s more of an adjustment period, after a 10.4% SwStr% over 477 PA at Triple-A. That should at least mean maintaining his 22.9% strikeout rate (or not a huge regression anyway), and that only strengthens the outlook. He has the potential to make a significant impact over the final few weeks assuming he’s going to continue getting regular AB.

8) Kevin Newman leads the way for Pittsburgh, but do we care…
Hitting atop the order he set the pace for the Pirates, who scored 11 runs playing in Coors Field, as he went 4-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R. He’s now on a six-game hitting streak, scoring 9 R during the stretch, and overall is hitting .309 with 9 HR and 13 SB over 392 AB. He clearly brings an ability to make consistent contact (49 K), but will he bring enough of any other skill to consider him worth using? He’s never shown much power before, and entering the day with a 26.0% Hard% and 51.5% groundball rate it’s hard to envision him suddenly morphing into a 20+ HR threat. He has some speed, but he’s not a pure burner who is going to rack up SB consistently either. Throw in not taking many walks and the potential for his .330 BABIP to dip, he’s more of a player to use while he’s hot but not one to utilize as a set him and forget him option.

9) Has the clock struck midnight on Hyun-Jin Ryu…
The Arizona Diamondbacks burned him yesterday, allowing 7 ER on 10 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 4.2 IP. It’s his second straight start where he’s allowed 7 ER, and third straight poor season overall (18 ER over 14.2 IP) as his ERA has jumped from 1.45 to 2.35. Obviously the current mark is still elite, but can he turn things back around or is he going to see his struggles continuing? Considering he entered the day with an 85.6% strand rate and a pedestrian 7.84 K/9 and would it really be surprising if he continued to be more of a good, not elite, starter? It’s not to say that he’s going to be anything close to this bad consistently, but he also may struggle to look like the pitcher he did over the first four months of the season. Don’t consider him among the elite.

10) Chris Paddack rebounds with an impressive outing in San Francisco…
Taking on the Giants he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP. It was a welcome sight, after he had allowed 3+ ER (including 6 ER in 2.1 IP his last start out) in each of his past four starts (causing his ERA to balloon from 2.78 to 3.84). Home runs have been a big issue (he entered with a 1.61 HR/9) and he again allowed a home run yesterday while generating 3 groundballs vs. 10 fly balls. That’s going to continue to cause concern, though the biggest question may be how many more starts is he really going to get? He’s now thrown 124.1 innings in ’19 after throwing just 90.0 last season (his first since missing all of ’17). Long-term there’s value, but for the remainder of this season he likely is going to be fairly useless. Just keep that in mind as you plan for September.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

13 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Prof,

    I’m pretty far ahead in my standard 5×5 roto keeper league (obp instead of avg), I’m in first and 2nd place is 26 points behind. So even though I don’t want to waste a roster space, I can get away with doing just that which leads me to my question. We can keep 5 players, and my keeper eligible pitchers aren’t that great so I was wondering if you think it’s worth grabbing Frankie Montas and stashing him for next season? His numbers were great before his suspension but I’m not sure if the risk outweighs the reward, not knowing how much whatever he was taking was or wasn’t affecting his performance and the fact that his really good stretch was a small sample size. My eligible keepers are Ohtani in the 11th (definitely keeping), Aquino, Willie Calhoun, Hunter Dozier, Mercado, Biggio, Brandon Lowe, Boyd and Houser. There’s more but those are the ones I would probably consider actually keeping. Would you bother adding Montas or is there enough to choose from to forget about him. Also if you had to choose 5 to keep from that group, who would you choose as of today? All except Ohtani would be kept in the last rounds of the draft.

    Sorry for the long ass msg and as always thanks for your advice!

    • If there’s a chance he’s a keeper and you have the spot, I would say Montas is worth rostering for now. That’s not to say that I’d definitely keep him, but it’s worth at least giving yourself the option

    • We’ve seen players have outstanding months before and fall off, so I want to see a little bit more. I’m still concerned that strikeouts will haunt him, but right now it’s hard not to be excited about what the future may hold

  2. Best streamer for the weekend? Need the W and decent ratios.

    Valdez @ Tor-Son +8.6
    Matz @ Phil-Son +3.3
    Burke vs Sea-Son +2.9
    Webb vs SD-Son -3.0
    D. Duffy vs Balt-Son +20.3

    Thank you

  3. Hey Roto P. Would you pickup Gonsolin for Cease? I would be streaming him since we have an innings limit. Do you have speculation on his outlook as a starter for LA?

    • I’m never willing to say that the Dodgers will ever keep running someone out there, because they are constantly giving people rest/watching innings. That said, if you are purely looking at ’19 I’d rather gamble on Gonsolin right now

  4. Prof,

    Houser has been serviceable, but with the hip issue and unfavorable match-ups next week (Hou, ChC), time to pivot to Montgomery (DET, @MIA) or Mikolas (CIN, @PIT)?

    Thanks.

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